TAIPEI - Greater Kaohsiung can expect a shortfall of 400,000 tons of water by 2021, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
If development projects in Greater Kaohsiung proceed on schedule, water demand in the special municipality will reach 1.882 million tons by 2021 - a shortfall of roughly 393,000 tons, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu said yesterday.
Yang, also director-general of the MOEA's Water Resources Agency (WRA), said the central government is set to open a series of forums in Southern Taiwan.
The MOEA aims to form a regional consensus on how to meet the gap in water supply and demand, Yang said yesterday at the Legislative Yuan.
No Consensus on Solutions
Greater Kaohsiung, which lacks a local reservoir, is currently under phase-three water rationing.
The MOEA is seeking to make full use of surface water, subsurface, groundwater and water conservation measures during the ongoing drought, Yang said yesterday.
During the process of implementing drought emergency responses, the WRA has confirmed the continued necessity of a large-scale water storage facility in Greater Kaohsiung, he continued.
The vice minister said yesterday that the Gaoping Great Lakes project is currently not the preferred solution to the south's water crisis.
The project, proposed by the WRA's Southern Region Water Resources Office, aims to create manmade lakes on arable land along the Kaohsiung-Pingtung border.
The initiative has catalyzed protest from local farmers, who fear that the lakes will divert the local water stream and hurt agricultural production.
Yang yesterday proposed "diverse water solutions" and said that Gaoping Great Lakes project is not the WRA's favoured solution.
Previously at the Legislative Yuan, MOEA Minister John Deng had said that constructing a new reservoir in Greater Kaohsiung's Meinung District is one among a number of solutions.
But before residents, industry and other parties reach a consensus regarding the reservoir, the MOEA will not promote its construction, according to Deng.
"At present, there is no budget and no plan to construct the reservoir," he said.
Lawmakers have requested that the MOEA conduct a regional public opinion survey on building a reservoir in Meinung District in Greater Kaohsiung.
Survey results are scheduled for release in mid-June.
Yesterday at the Legislative Yuan's Economics Committee, lawmakers discussed draft amendments to the Water Act and the Water Supply Act.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying said the Gaoping Great Lakes project is expected to cost NT$12 billion and provide only 100,000 tons of water.
The most cost-effective means of meeting the coming shortfall is reducing water leakage from pipes and fittings, she said.
Yang responded that the Taiwan Water Corporation sets aside NT$700 million annually to reduce the leakage rate, which currently averages 14.6 per cent.
The MOEA has demanded that Taiwan Water Corporation reduce the leakage rate to 10 per cent by 2021, he said.